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A quick question about Zarela


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My girlfriend and I are probably going to Zarela this weekend, and on their website menu, there's a note that says "We are happy to prepare braised chicken in a mole sauce for the aficionados." Is this a polite way of saying "We'll do this if you're afraid of everything else" or are they trying to say "This is what you REALLY want to ask for"?

I'm just trying to make sure we don't miss out on something good either way.

Thanks!

"Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside" -Mark Twain

"Video games are bad for you? That's what they said about rock 'n roll." -Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of The Legend of Zelda, circa 1990

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Mole is a complicated sauce, time consumingly made, with many ingredients; origionally from Puebla, and it has a long and storied history. The restaurant, as many, makes mole only upon request. Try it, it's part of Mexican culture...

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Oh yeah, I know about mole. I love it and can never get enough. My girlfriend's never had the chance to try it before.

So it's worth ordering, then? Of course I'd be weighing my mood, the specials, etc., but it's worth ordering?

"Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside" -Mark Twain

"Video games are bad for you? That's what they said about rock 'n roll." -Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of The Legend of Zelda, circa 1990

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Sorry to be pedantic...but this goes to the heart of why the selection of Mexican food in NY absolutely sucks:

"mole" is simply a derivative of the Aztec word for "sauce."

Mole Poblano (the chocolatey sauce familiar to NY'ers) is the most notable mole from Puebla and about the only mole available in NY.

In contrast, Oaxaca has 7 royal moles and hundreds of other moles...99% of which have nothing to do with chocolate.

For some reason you can get Oaxacan food in the southwest, the west coast, Chicago and even in Milwaukee, but not in the food metropolis that is NY.

On the other hand, if someone opened a real Oaxacan restaurant in NY...everyone would be demanding table-side guac and wondering why none of the moles were familiar.

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I used to deliver auto parts during the summer, and I remember that there are a bunch of Oaxacan joints in and around New Brunswick. They may be generic Mexican, but they might be worth a lookup.

I didn't know that mole poblano was just one of many different types of sauces. I'll keep that in mind for the future, so don't be surprised if I come back to this thread in an indeterminate amount of time asking you about those places that might have different types of mole. :-P

"Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside" -Mark Twain

"Video games are bad for you? That's what they said about rock 'n roll." -Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of The Legend of Zelda, circa 1990

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On the other hand, if someone opened a real Oaxacan restaurant in NY...everyone would be demanding table-side guac and wondering why none of the moles were familiar.

Of course, guacamole is also a mole. :wink:

FWIW, I've had a pretty good Oaxacan pipian in a few NYC restaurants.

--

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true about guac.

but the whole tableside prep thing is some sort of NY requirement if you want to "upscale" your Mexican. did it start with Dos Caminos?

I have seen a pipian on some menus...of course, there are a bunch of different pumpkin based moles in Oaxaca.

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My girlfriend and I are probably going to Zarela this weekend, and on their website menu, there's a note that says "We are happy to prepare braised chicken in a mole sauce for the aficionados."  Is this a polite way of saying "We'll do this if you're afraid of everything else" or are they trying to say "This is what you REALLY want to ask for"? 

That is so weird. It suggests the rest of the food is not for the aficionado.

Does she request that you order in advance?

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Yes it is. A rather fruity one and usually too sweet for my taste.

I'd never seen it on a NY menu before.

I suppose, as with the pipian, customers would find it confusing if they referred to it as a mole....since Poblano is what immediately comes to mind for NY'ers.

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Oh yeah, I know about mole.  I love it and can never get enough.  My girlfriend's never had the chance to try it before. 

So it's worth ordering, then?  Of course I'd be weighing my mood, the specials, etc., but it's worth ordering?

It appears that you may need to do the research and let us know. :wink:

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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"mole" is simply a derivative of the Aztec word for "sauce."

While this is true there is a lot of debate about the origen of the word and its usage as related to present-day moles. One variation of the story is that the word "muele", which is a deriviative of the Spanish word "moler" meaning "to mill or grind", was the description used in the Pueblan convent where Mole de Puebla, generally considered the original "mole", was invented.

Mole Poblano (the chocolatey sauce familiar to NY'ers) is the most notable mole from Puebla and about the only mole available in NY.

In contrast, Oaxaca has 7 royal moles and hundreds of other moles...99% of which have nothing to do with chocolate.

While a good mole de Puebla is a great dish, clearly much of the reason for its primacy in the US (not just NY) is the romantic aspect of its containing some chocolate even though that chocolate component is just that and, in a good mole, not identifiable by its presence. What makes any mole, a mole is its complexity and technique of incorporating many disparate ingredients seemlessly into a synergistic whole. Pipians do the same thing, but are generally much less complex and less insistent on coalescing all the ingredients into a combined completely new flavor. Individual components are more likely to shine in a classicly made pipian.

That a guacomole is also a "mole" may either lend creedance to the Mixtecan word origen of "mole" or as is often the case in the English language offer evidence that the same word may have two different origens and meanings as clearly a guacomole does not fit into the definition of what makes a complex Pueblan or Oaxacan mole, a "mole"

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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  • 2 weeks later...

FWIW, Patricia Quintana includes guacamole in her book Mulli, El libro de los moles. Actually several recipes.

I think when Yanks say mole, they mean mole Poblano. I used to think a martini was gin, vermouth and ice, stirred and strained in to a chilled cocktail glass. I just don't have the fight in me any more!

I'm surprised Zarela would be so sloppy when she wrote a seminal book on Oaxaca!

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but the whole tableside prep thing is some sort of NY requirement if you want to "upscale" your Mexican.  did it start with Dos Caminos?

No, it started with Rosa Mexicana.

i've always found the tableside guac ceremony to be an annoying, unnecessarily showy, ny "upscale" mexican thing. it kills me how many people are impressed by it and cite it as a reason to appreciate a place. as a former texan who believes that good tex-mex can be as tasty as (or even more so than) "upscale", "real", interior mexican food, i find guacamole needs to sit for at least a few hours to allow the flavors to brighten and coalesce.

can't believe it's not butter? i can.

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if i remember correctly, they offer a mole option, on the fly, topping either enchiladas or flautas or something of the sort. i don't recall if it was offered as a special or on the menu, but i've had it there.

i'm not a huge mole poblano fan, even in Oaxaca it doesn't quite do it for me.

if you're into cooking on your own, Kitchen Market, on 8th ave, has mole paste and just about any mexican cooking ingredient you could want or need..

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